The Texas Motor Speedway promotional marketing campaign poster final week of the brand new children on the racetrack left one place out.
It’s time for these perceived future stars of NASCAR to begin successful. And the following three weeks might present the right venues for them.
Brief-track races at Bristol (2 p.m. ET Sunday, Fox) and Richmond adopted by the restrictor-plate race at Talladega means ample alternative for younger drivers to earn their first victory.
These are those we’re speaking about: Erik Jones (21 years previous), 11th within the Cup collection standings. Alex Bowman (turns 25 on April 25), 14th. Chase Elliott (22), 15th, William Byron (20) in 18th and Darrell Wallace Jr. (24) in 19th. That is 5 drivers within the top-20 who’ve by no means received a race. Ryan Blaney (24), in third, has received only one (Pocono in 2017).
After which, after all, Talladega. Brad Keselowski and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. are the present drivers who first hoisted a Cup trophy of their careers at that observe. The historic checklist consists of Brian Vickers, Ken Schrader and Davey Allison.
Daytona 500 winner Austin Dillon (age 27) is the one under-30 driver to win this yr. The opposite winners from 2018 embrace: Kevin Harvick (42), Clint Bowyer (38), Martin Truex Jr. (37) and Kyle Busch (32).
“If you like good marketing, it is good,” Harvick mentioned concerning the old-versus-young themes. “If you like winners, you go for the old guys.”
“I love every one of those kids … and I think they are all great for our sport,” Harvick mentioned. “I’m not taking private digs on them. I’m attempting to have enjoyable with it, and I advised them that they need to have enjoyable with it, too. That’s actually what it’s about.
“The dad and child sitting within the grandstands from two totally different generations and mother and daughter sitting within the grandstands from two totally different generations, they root for the previous guys and also you root for the younger guys. That’s nice for our sport, it truly is.”
However the hot button is sooner or later, they should win. Harvick mentioned Dale Earnhardt Jr. might have even been extra common if he had received extra races and a championship. Danica Patrick, he famous, had all of the advertising behind her, however her lack of success ended her profession.
“While you have a look at the dynamic between Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt, that is the dynamic that we’ve the potential to have proper now with the group of younger racers which have are available,” Harvick said. “However any person has to step up and be that winner. Who’s the younger winner? Who’s going to be the man that is going to go in opposition to Truex and problem him for the championship that he is defending and win races?
“I’m happy with where I’m at. We’re winning races and gaining momentum and doing all the things we need to do.”
Elliott received the Xfinity Sequence title in 2014 and moved to Cup two years later. Daniel Suarez received in 2016 and Byron received in 2017; every moved to Cup the yr following his title. Jones, the 2015 truck champion, spent one yr in Xfinity after which went to Cup in 2017.
Brief tracks lend themselves to alternatives for younger drivers: They typically name for the fashion of racing they’re most accustomed to, as these are the locations the place they honed their abilities. The unpredictability of restrictor-plate racing additionally supplies one other alternative.
Jones enters Bristol coming off a season-best fourth-place end at Texas.
“Starting the year last year, I thought I was kind of laid-back and, you know, biding my time and finishing races well,” Jones mentioned. “Then because the yr went on, I obtained an increasing number of aggressive and at instances would get myself into accidents. We had a variety of DNFs within the midpoint of the yr and towards the tip of the yr which [were] my very own fault fairly just a few instances.
“I feel simply looking for that center floor this yr has been essential to me and discovering out steadiness of charging laborious. You need to run as laborious as you’ll be able to each lap, however typically you bought to take what’s given to you.”
Blaney has had the perfect season of all of the recent faces on the circuit.
“I do not actually have a look at age,” Blaney said. “They’re simply rivals to me. I do not actually perceive the hate that everybody will get for the youthful [versus] veterans. It isn’t a rivalry. I do not care in case you’re 18 years previous or 50 years previous, we’re simply rivals.”
The one “younger man” to win at Bristol the previous 5 years has been Logano, and possibly that has to do with him adapting to resurfacing and makes an attempt to create a number of grooves on the observe. There’s additionally the truth that drivers akin to Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Harvick, Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards have been veterans on the high of their video games once they received at Bristol.
But when there’s a chance, do not be stunned if one among these younger drivers will get antsy.
“To be trustworthy with you, it is very tough to maneuver guys out of the best way,” Elliott said prior to Martinsville. “It is easy to make a mistake and to wreck them. I am in all probability not adequate to maneuver them out of the best way and never wreck them.
“So, for me, I just better figure out a way to pass them without touching them would probably be the best option. But there are going to come times when you are going to be racing hard and you are going to touch and you are going to move guys — and people aren’t going to be happy and that is part of it.”